What is the Meaning of Christmas?

It’s that time of year again; holidays from work and school, lights, decorations, sweets, the festive spirit, and even deals at our favourite stores. For many, it’s the most anticipated time of the year, Christmas.

The primary basis of Christmas is to commemorate the birth of Jesus (as), which many Christians believe to have been on the 25th of December. But interestingly, as the Encyclopedia Britannica puts it:

Early Christians did not celebrate his birth, and no one knows on which date Jesus was actually born

It’s true, the date 25 December is not actually specified in Biblical text. There is however, some indication as to the time of year when Jesus (as) was born, and it wasn’t in the winter. Luke 2:8 mentions that at the time when Jesus (as) was born, there were sheperds watching over their flock through the night. Scholars have taken this to mean that Jesus (as) was born in either the spring or summer months.

As there was no specified date, the early Christians never celebrated the birth of Jesus (as). In fact, this concept did not come about until centuries later. So where do Christmas come from? The New Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

Christmas originated at a time when the cult of the sun was particularly strong at Rome. This theory finds support in some of the Church Fathers’ contrasting the birth of Christ and the winter solstice. Though the substitution of Christmas for the pagan festival cannot be proved with certainty, it remains the most plausible explanation for the dating of Christmas

The New Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 3 p. 656

Nonetheless, it is an opportunity to remember the esteemed personage of Jesus (as). Islam regards Jesus (as) as a noble prophet, who was commissioned by God to revive the religion and teachings of Moses (as). His teachings were beautiful and pure, of love, peace and harmony, and his mission was to draw people towards the One, True God.